Why do some people binge eat?

Cate

Long-term member.
I'm starting this thread as a bit of a thought bubble in that I think it's helpful for us to understand why we do things. Just trying to articulate the reasons behind our behaviours can help to learn strategies to overcome these tendencies. I no longer binge eat, but occasionally still have the urge. It's usually when I am angry or overwhelmed, but often just plain tired & crabby. I try to recognise my feelings & replace the urge with something distracting, often that can be a walk, escaping into a book, doing some gardening, having a nap or eating 2 oranges. (One is usually not enough.)
Why do you think you binge?
I don't want this to be a binge/purge thread, please. I would like it to be helpful so that we can all develop better strategies to deal with it in a healthy way.
 

Cate

Long-term member.
From the Mayo Clinic-

Coping and support​

Living with an eating disorder is especially difficult because you have to deal with food on a daily basis. Here are some tips to help you cope:

  • Ease up on yourself. Don't buy into your own self-criticism.
  • Identify situations that may trigger destructive eating behavior so you can develop a plan of action to deal with them.
  • Look for positive role models who can help lift your self-esteem. Remind yourself that the ultrathin models or actresses showcased in women's magazines often don't represent healthy, realistic bodies.
  • Try to find a trusted relative or friend whom you can talk with about what's going on.
  • Try to find someone who can be your partner in the battle against binge eating — someone you can call on for support instead of bingeing.
  • Find healthy ways to nurture yourself by doing something just for fun or to relax, such as yoga, meditation or simply a walk.
  • Consider journaling about your feelings and behaviors. Journaling can make you more aware of your feelings and actions, and how they're related.
 

Llama

Well-known member
Not eating enough, and especially not eating enough protein, is a definite risk factor for me as well. Even if I don´t consciously feel hungry it WILL come back to bite me. And if I binge once it becomes so easy to just keep binging... Both physically (because I´ll feel like crap and won´t have the energy to cook) and mentally (because I tell myself it´ll be easier to get back on track when I get it out of my system properly - which is of course a lie). Another physical risk factor is having very processed sweet treats with a lot of fat and sugar but no protein and fiber. "A little taste" just leaves me wanting more.

On the mental side the risk factors are mostly anxiety and sadness. Fatigue as well but if I´m just tired without added negative emotions I´ll have a bath and go to bed early rather than eat my feelings. Binging on highly palatable foods knocks my brain into a stupor with no room for negative sensations. So I sometimes eat chocolate the way an alcoholic drinks.
 

Llama

Well-known member
Not eating enough, and especially not eating enough protein, is a definite risk factor for me as well. Even if I don´t consciously feel hungry it WILL come back to bite me.
And to add to that: depending on where I am in my cycle my body may need more food than would make sense based on activity alone. Ignoring that is a recipe for disaster as well.
 

overlandflyer

Well-known member
i truly believe people do not know how to deal with hunger aside from one solution... eat something. how many of you have food you can access 24 hours/ day? my guess would be everyone. when i wake up, most mornings i feel a little hungry. i ignore the feeling. after 3-4 years of practice, it's not hard for me anymore... most days. take this morning... an hour ago i went over the same argument i deal with nearly every day... i felt a little hungry, but i simply ignored it. now, i not hungry at all. seems odd, but it will happen at least 2-3 more times before one or two o'clock when i probably will eat something.

of course the other end of this is, once i start to eat something, what triggers the end of a meal. as binge eaters must feel, many times i'm not satisfied, but i stop anyway. i'm sure this is no news to anyone... it takes a bit of time before your mind thinks you've eaten enough. similar to hunger when you have eaten nothing, i just stop anyway. does the binge feeling fade... yes... no surprise to me.

is ignoring hunger easy? ... of course it isn't. what makes it easier for me is understanding nutrition. if i had eaten something an hour ago, i would not still be burning stored fat for energy which, after not eating for the past 12+ hours now, i am. instead my body would have increased my blood sugar and i might even be in a fat storing mode.
 

alligatorob

Respected Member
Why do you think you binge?
Hey all, this looks like a very appropriate place for me to start back in. Lots of experience here.

I wish I was sure - I think at the heart of it I have an instinct to eat all I can. A useful thing for much of human existence, not so much now.

However intellectually I know what is right and what's not, and still I binge. I have a few times in my life been able to control it, and of late have not binged as frequently or consistently as I did most of my life. So there is hope, and I am trying to find it.

We probably have lots of caveman instincts that don't work so well today, this is just the one I have problems managing...
 

alligatorob

Respected Member
i truly believe people do not know how to deal with hunger aside from one solution... eat something
I don't think that's it for me.

I don't usually binge when hungry, it is more likely to happen after eating a decent meal, I just can't stop... But I have binged at almost any time, in almost any condition.
 

Skurgeon

Well-known member
I love food but it wasn’t about hunger for me when I was stuffed to the gills and still trying to eat more. There was a weird conscious/unconscious self destruction thing going on with me.

Partly a vicious circle as well. Being very Obese was depressing and on my mind every waking minute every day. Except for those 15 to 20 minute chunks when the euphoria and comfort of gluttony gave me some reprieve that was instantly followed with disgust, despair and shame.

I honestly can’t say why I had a compulsion to eat 10 candy bars and a box of donuts and 2 or 3 bottles of soda in the morning on the way to work. Or why every food choice for he rest of the day would be equally as horrific. I knew it was terrible for me, I knew I shouldn’t be doing it and I would have these thoughts internally as I proceeded to purchase and consume them.

I would sometimes say out loud to myself in the car “Don’t do this.” as I pulled into a fast food drive thru. Maybe 1 time out of a 100 I would get to the spot where you place your order and just get a bottle of water or say “Sorry, I forgot my wallet” and just drive away victorious. But 99 times out of 100 I would give in and not only that I would almost as a surprise to myself add to my order in the last second surprising myself.

“I’ll have the number 2 combo with cheese and a Coke Zero…………….AND a double whopper with cheese by itself.”

sure, just add another 1000 plus calories to this 2am snack…. Even when I was able to just order the water or lie about not having money with me to pay I’d usually give in a few minutes later at the next drive thru. It was maddening.

The worst was getting up out of bed at 2am when my alarm was set for 6am for work, getting dressed, and going out in freezing winter conditions to byt food at the grocery store to binge on. There’s so many steps and hurdles to get there but something compelled me to go out of my way to hurt myself all the while knowing I shouldn’t.

I can’t say why I did binge eat and I can’t really say why I am not doing it now. I do track my food to the nth degree and I think that has helped me. There was maybe 2 instances over the last 2 years that approached what would be considered a binge but because I have this compulsion now to weigh and measure And record everything I eat it slowed me down and I watched the calorie number rising as I kept snacking away at things.

In the end I may have just traded a binging/over eating food compulsion for a fitness and control compulsion.
 

alligatorob

Respected Member
I love food but it wasn’t about hunger for me when I was stuffed to the gills and still trying to eat more. There was a weird conscious/unconscious self destruction thing going on with me.

Partly a vicious circle as well. Being very Obese was depressing and on my mind every waking minute every day. Except for those 15 to 20 minute chunks when the euphoria and comfort of gluttony gave me some reprieve that was instantly followed with disgust, despair and shame.

I honestly can’t say why I had a compulsion to eat 10 candy bars and a box of donuts and 2 or 3 bottles of soda in the morning on the way to work. Or why every food choice for he rest of the day would be equally as horrific. I knew it was terrible for me, I knew I shouldn’t be doing it and I would have these thoughts internally as I proceeded to purchase and consume them.

I would sometimes say out loud to myself in the car “Don’t do this.” as I pulled into a fast food drive thru. Maybe 1 time out of a 100 I would get to the spot where you place your order and just get a bottle of water or say “Sorry, I forgot my wallet” and just drive away victorious. But 99 times out of 100 I would give in and not only that I would almost as a surprise to myself add to my order in the last second surprising myself.

“I’ll have the number 2 combo with cheese and a Coke Zero…………….AND a double whopper with cheese by itself.”

sure, just add another 1000 plus calories to this 2am snack…. Even when I was able to just order the water or lie about not having money with me to pay I’d usually give in a few minutes later at the next drive thru. It was maddening.

The worst was getting up out of bed at 2am when my alarm was set for 6am for work, getting dressed, and going out in freezing winter conditions to byt food at the grocery store to binge on. There’s so many steps and hurdles to get there but something compelled me to go out of my way to hurt myself all the while knowing I shouldn’t.

I can’t say why I did binge eat and I can’t really say why I am not doing it now. I do track my food to the nth degree and I think that has helped me. There was maybe 2 instances over the last 2 years that approached what would be considered a binge but because I have this compulsion now to weigh and measure And record everything I eat it slowed me down and I watched the calorie number rising as I kept snacking away at things.

In the end I may have just traded a binging/over eating food compulsion for a fitness and control compulsion.
Wow! So well put, and you could have been describing me exactly!! You really did hit my nail right on the head...

I guess in the end not doing it is more important than the whys, but knowing might help us control the urges. Maybe, its kind of the holy grail isn't it?
 

alligatorob

Respected Member
One thing I have noticed is that bingeing can make me a little stronger, I see this working out. I use a trainer a few days a week and she tracks my progress, weight/reps pretty closely, and now I know most of my improvements have happened after bingeing. A week or so without a binge and my strength does not go up, and sometimes drops a little.

I think this has given me another of those insidious rationales to binge... However I know that I am plenty strong enough, and being able to curl or press a few more pounds is a poor trade off for binge eating. No weight lifter competitions or shows in my future, LOL. I know I will never have @Skurgeon 's biceps! But knowing bingeing might make mine a little bigger hasn't helped...
 
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alligatorob

Respected Member
I don't want this to be a binge/purge thread, please.
Hey Cate, I hope I have not hijacked your thread too much. It is however, as you know, an important issue to me. If it would be better I can rant and rave elsewhere.

Thanks for starting this by the way!
 

Skurgeon

Well-known member
There are powerlifters who force feed to gain weight because they are going for a world record lift on a certain date. It’s crazy. It’s also physics. At 400 plus pounds I could punch a punching bag way harder than I can now. There’s a reason there are weight classes in fighting.
 

Cate

Long-term member.
Hey Cate, I hope I have not hijacked your thread too much. It is however, as you know, an important issue to me. If it would be better I can rant and rave elsewhere.

Thanks for starting this by the way!
I started this thread in the hope that others pick it up in just this way. I have never been a binger really when I compare mine with the experiences of others, but when I did feel like stuffing my face
There was a weird conscious/unconscious self destruction thing going on with me.
I think it helps to understand the why's if we can.
 

alligatorob

Respected Member
There's a reason why powerlifters and strongman competitors tend to be more than a little chunky. Sadly it doesn't make them healthier.
Thanks, I didn't know that. Kind of confirms what I was thinking...
At 400 plus pounds I could punch a punching bag way harder than I can now.
That makes sense. I know that I lost some strength and probably muscle when I lost the weight. However it is a good tradeoff.
 

alligatorob

Respected Member
There is a lot of talk about binge triggers, and I have given it a lot of thought. Tried to pay attention in my recent bout of bingeing. I cannot find any specific thing or things that trigger me. But I have noticed some patterns.

Most of my binges came shortly after eating a good meal, maybe a little bigger but healthy and reasonable calories. I just found it hard to stop.

Sometimes they came as the result of what was planned to be a small indulgence, something sweet or not did not matter, just something outside of my regular eating pattern. And I could not eat just one, or two, or... well y'all know.

However sometimes they just came out of the clear blue. Like @Skurgeon a few times I awoke in the night, not from hunger, just woke up and binged.

I guess all this thinking about it does help me not do it, even if I find no real answers. Now I am going to try to get to bed without a binge.
 

Llama

Well-known member
Yesterday I binged just because I was so relieved the course was done. Or maybe because relief sounded like an believable excuse? Some days I guess I binge because the idea pops into my head (more likely if I've been binging recently), I come up with an excuse (because stuffing my face is pleasant so plenty motivation to find excuses), and I just don't tell myself no.
 

Skurgeon

Well-known member
Sometimes my binges weren’t out of the blue. Like if I was at work and I had 4 or 5 hours left in my shift and I got the idea or craving for something in my head, I knew it was going to happen. Even though I had 4 or 5 hours to talk myself out of it and I wanted to not do it. It was like I had no control, like I was a passenger in my own body.
 
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